Stormy start to Zairil’s reign

GEORGE TOWN — Hundreds of fans have protested Zairil Khir Johari’s appointment today as Penang FA (FAP) president.

Fans came with banners and placards calling for the team’s dignity to be saved and for him to resign.

“Three matches in and we have lost all of them. What’s worse, we have not even scored a goal,” said Ultras Penang Fan Club representative Zamzuri Ibrahim, 30, in front of Penang Institute, Jalan Brown where FAP held an extraordinary general meeting yesterday.

“We are puzzled by (coach) Ashley Westwood’s tactics of playing players in wrong positions.”

The fans made loud noise calling for Zairil to come out and face the fans but vice-president Datuk Gary Nair did his best to calm things down.

He then allowed Zamzuri and a few others to have closed door meeting with Zairil.

Zairil was elected unpposed to replace Datuk Seri Nazir Ariff Mushir Ariff, who stepped down last month.

“I do understand the displeasure of the fans but just like in politics, we cannot please everyone,” said Zairil. “We are a young team and I have my long term target to develop the club as a whole.”

L. Katherisan will take over as manager, replacing Zairil with immediate effect.
By Mohamed Basyir

Ronaldo

Legends born
on same day

FEB 5 is the birth date of some of the greatest footballers we have witnessed.

Here is our homage to the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, Neymar and Carlos Tevez.

Happy 32nd Birthday Cristiano Ronaldo!

• 834 games

• 575 goals

• Four-time Ballon d’Or winner (2008, 2013, 2014, 2016)

Happy 25th Birthday Neymar!

• 468 games

• 280 goals

Happy 33rd Birthday Carlos Tevez!

• 689 games

• 286 goals

• South American Footballer of the Year (2003-05)

Others players born on the famous date:

Gheorghe Hagi, 52

• Former Romania and Barcelona striker.

Giovanni Van Bronckhorst, 42

• Former Arsenal and Rangers midfielder and leftback. — Various

Denis the menace ruins it for Canada

CANADA have been disqualified from their Davis Cup tie against Britain after one of their players hit a ball square in the umpire’s face.

Denis Shapovalov let out his frustration after going two sets and a break down to Team GB’s Kyle Edmund in their do-or-die rubber.

The ball was launched in the direction of umpire Arnaud Gabas’, hitting him flush in the left eye.

• The Frenchman iced the wound but left the court soon after.

• Rules of tennis state any contact with an umpire or ballboy in an act of anger results in automatic disqualification.

• Match referee was forced to award victory to Edmund and Britain.

Surely an accident?

The decision was met with boos in TD Place Arena, Canada.

Gabas was taken to hospital where he was treated for swelling and bruising.

“It’s unacceptable from me. I feel ashamed and embarrassed for letting my country down,” said Shapovalov.

Teammate Vasek Pospisil tweeted: “No one is nicer or carries themselves better for a 17-year-old than Shapovalov. Everyone can see today was an accident. Can happen to anyone.”

Team Britain captain Leon Smith said: “I feel for the young lad. He’s a great talent and he’s learned a harsh lesson.

In other ties Spain beat Croatia 3-2 with Pablo Carreno beat Nikola Mektic 7-6 (7-4), 6-1, 6-4, Roberto Bautista overcame Franko Skugor 6-1, 6-7 (4-7), 6-3, 7-6 (8-6).

The US beat Switzerland 5-0 with Steve Johnson triumphing over Antoine Bellier in straight sets 6-4, 6-3, while teammate Sam Querrey also won in two sets against Adrien Bossel 6-3, 7-5

Belgium beat Germany 4-1 with Ruben Bemelmans starting it off with a 7-5, 6-1 victory over Mischa Zverev, Steve Darcis followed suit with a hard fought 2-6 6-4 6-4 7-6 (10-8).

In the clash between Serbia and Russia, Daniil Medvedev received a walkover to register Russia’s first point. Later Dusan Lajovic completed Serbia’s win with a 6-3, 4-6, 6-3 defeat of Konstantin Kravchuk. — Agencies

IT’S OVER

HE’S done it! Jack Rodwell has FINALLY won a league game in which he started.

The 25-year-old had to wait more than three years for success in the Premier League.

Rodwell’s dismal run came to an end when David Moyes’ side scored four first half goals in their win over Crystal Palace.

WELL DONE

• Three years, eight months and 29 days since a win in the league for Rodwell.

• That’s 1,370 days!

• Last league win which he started was during his spell at Manchester City.

He left the pitch injured after 52 minutes against Palace … but that was to kick start celebrations!

Miserable Arsenal

What’s new at the Emirates!

Starting the season strongly, before collapsing halfway — and over the weekend at Stamford Bridge, losing to Chelsea 3-1.

They have now dropped to fourth place and are 12 points behind the Blues.

Season over? Maybe. — Various

Vincent Aboubakar

Lions deny Pharaohs

LIBREVILLE — Vincent Aboubakar scored a brilliant late goal to hand unfancied Cameroon a come-from-behind 2-1 victory over Egypt and their fifth Africa Nations Cup title in an entertaining final on Sunday.

Cameroon, who had eight of their players withdraw before the tournament, came from a goal down after midfielder Mohamed Elneny had put Egypt ahead midway through the first half.

Nicolas Nkoulou equalised on the hour and, as Egypt tired, Cameroon appeared to find a new gear, creating several chances before Aboubakar struck the winner in the 88th minute after chesting the ball down and flicking it over defender Ali Gabr.

It was Cameroon’s first title since 2002 and denied Egypt a triumphant return to the tournament they last won in 2010, while at the same time inflicting a first loss on the North African side in 25 Africa Cup of Nations matches dating back to 2004.

“We are delighted but we are not yet the finished product. We can still make a lot of improvement,” said Cameroon’s Belgian manager Hugo Broos.

For Egypt boss Hector Cuper it was more disappointment. Having lost five finals in club football, including Europe’s elite Champions League twice, he is an unlucky loser again at international level.

“Cameroon deserved to win. I have deep sorrow for my players but it was too much for them, they were too tired. For myself, losing another final, I don’t want to say I’m getting used to it,” the Argentine said.

But for Cameroon’s young Indomitable Lions it was a moment of unexpected triumph in a tournament the country will host in 2019 as defending champions.
— Reuters

Pioli fumes at referee

TURIN — Manager Stefano Pioli claims Inter Milan “paid dearly” for referee Nicola Rizzoli’s decision not to award two penalties in their 1-0 Serie A defeat at Juventus on Sunday.

Inter saw their seven-game league winning run ended by the league leaders, with Juan Cuadrado’s stunning 45th minute strike deciding the match.

However, Pioli spotted two incidents before Cuadrado’s goal that he felt should have been picked up on by Rizzoli, who later sent off Ivan Perisic for dissent.

“There were two penalties for us — one with (Giorgio) Chiellini on (Mauro) Icardi and another incident with (Mario) Mandzukic,” he told Mediaset Premium.

“We created opportunities but the decisions did not go in our favour. The images I have seen are clear, and we’ve paid dearly for these errors.

“The performance was good against the strongest team in Italy. We are approaching their level as a team.

“Our disappointment is for our mistake and conceding the goal. We left space for Cuadrado to capitalise.”
— Agencies

SHORT PASSES

Conte
in Turin

TURIN — Sunday’s Derby d’Italia between Juventus and Inter Milan had a very distinguished guest in attendance as Antonio Conte paid a visit to his old stamping ground. The Chelsea manager was present as a guest of Juventus president Andrea Agnelli for the showpiece Serie A clash, and sat in the directors’ box alongside the chief to take in the action. Rumours in Italy have linked Conte with a sensational move to Inter, who are bankrolled by Chinese retail giants Suning Commerce Group. — Agencies

Sevilla confident
of Sampaoli stay

SEVILLA — Manager Jorge Sampaoli is already planning for next season at Sevilla despite speculation linking him with a move away from the club, says president Jose Castro. The Argentine has been strongly linked to replace Luis Enrique at Barcelona at the summer but Castro does not believe he will be leaving the Andalucian club, where he has a contract until June 2018.
— Agencies

Mangala slams
Los Che attitude

VALENCIA — Defender Eliaquim Mangala slammed his Valencia teammates for showing no fight or aggression after their 4-0 capitulation at home to Eibar in La Liga on Saturday. The humiliating defeat rounded off another turbulent week for Valencia, in which they faced more calls from fans for club president Peter Lim to sell up during the game and dispensed with club legend-turned-ambassador Mario Kempes, a known critic of the regime running Los Che. “It was a fair defeat, we deserved to lose because we didn’t show anything,” said Mangala.
— Agencies

Sergio Aguero

Aguero hints at exit

MANCHESTER — Sergio “Kun” Aguero is unsure about his Manchester City future … even though he wants to stay.

The Argentina striker was on the substitutes’ bench for the second match running as City beat Swansea 2-1 at the Etihad on Sunday — with his replacement Gabriel Jesus grabbing both goals.

After Aguero was spotted in a meeting with his agent and manager Pep Guardiola in a Manchester restaurant recently, speculation grew City might be prepared to let the prolific goalscorer go.

Aguero has no intention of leaving, but it could be out of his hands, reported Manchester Evening News.

He seemed relaxed about his sudden demotion, with Jesus grabbing his opportunity with both hands.

“Sometimes this happens,” Aguero said. “When you’re on the bench you have to wait for your opportunity.

“I have to help the team as much as I can in these three months, afterwards we’ll see what the club want to do with me. I want to stay.”

Asked about the meeting with Guardiola, Aguero said there was nothing “suspicious”.

“Things to do with the club, nothing strange. Private things that have to stay inside those walls,” he said.

Aguero only signed a contract extension earlier this year, although the club stayed quiet on the matter, and he has repeatedly expressed his happiness at City.

He did it again, saying: “In three years my contract is up, that’s why I say I’m happy at the club.

“In these last three months that are left I have to help the club and as I say the club will decide if I have a place here.”
— Agencies

Gabriel Jesus (3)

Jesus floating on cloud nine

MANCHESTER CITY’S saviour Gabriel Jesus was delighted in playing a match-winning role in their dramatic 2-1 win over Swansea on Sunday.

Jesus marked his first start at the Etihad with a double, opening the scoring before following Gylfi Sigurdsson’s equaliser with a winner two minutes into stoppage time.

The 19-year-old Brazil international was proud of the role he played, and credited the club and his teammates for helping him settle so quickly following his arrival from Palmeiras.

“It means a lot especially in front of our fans — I’m very happy to score both goals,” Jesus told Sky Sports.

“I’m very happy because I got into the team so quickly. Everybody at the club is trying to help me get better.

“When things go like this it is much easier to perform.”

Meanwhile, Fernandinho knew City were in for a tough match but felt Swansea paid the price for sitting back after their equaliser with nine minutes remaining.

“It was a very tough game for us. We knew that, we watched some Swansea games and we knew from the beginning it would be,” he said.

“In the first half they tried to just to defend.

“They put five in the middle and tried to close the space.

“When we scored the first goal we had some difficulty in trying to get in to the box.

“In the second half they played more football and tried to attack, but after they scored they played like they did in the first half.” — Agencies

Wagner sorry over fracas

LONDON — Huddersfield manager David Wagner apologised for the angry scenes which marred his side’s dramatic 2-1 derby win over Leeds, admitting emotions got the better of him.

Defender Michael Hefele scored a 90th-minute winner for Huddersfield against their Championship playoff rivals, sparking trouble on the sidelines before the final whistle.

Wagner ran down the touchline to celebrate with his players but became involved in a confrontation with Leeds boss Garry Monk as he returned to his technical area.

That clash then sparked a melee between players from both sides near the tunnel.

When referee Simon Hooper had restored order Wagner and Monk were sent to the stands while Liam Bridcutt, Pontus Jansson and Elias Kachunga were booked.

“It is all part of the emotion of the game but maybe this should happen with the players on the grass,” Wagner told Sky Sports.

“For me, celebrating with my players is not disrespectful but perhaps it is in British football culture. This culture is different in Germany.

“This game is very emotional for me and my staff. I am sorry and I apologise for what happened afterwards.”

Asked if he could “still be friends” with Monk, he said: “I don’t know him well enough to know that.”

Substitute Izzy Brown gave Huddersfield the lead in the 27th minute finishing off Tommy Smith’s cross.

Leeds then levelled eight minutes later through Chris Wood’s 21st goal of the season.

However, Huddersfield won it late on when Aaron Mooy’s cross was deflected to Hefele to tap home.
— Agencies

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